These oldest inhabited termite mounds have been active for 34,000 years

by | Jul 4, 2024 | Science

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Scientists in South Africa have been stunned to discover that termite mounds that are still inhabited in an arid region of the country are more than 30,000 years old, meaning they are the oldest known active termite hills.Some of the mounds near the Buffels River in Namaqualand were estimated by radiocarbon dating to be 34,000 years old, according to the researchers from Stellenbosch University.“We knew they were old, but not that old,” said Michele Francis, senior lecturer in the university’s department of soil science who led the study. Her paper was published in May.Francis said the mounds existed while saber-toothed cats and woolly mammoths roamed other parts of the Earth and large swathes of Europe and Asia were covered in ice. They predate some of the earliest cave paintings in Europe.Some fossilized termite mounds have been discovered dating back millions of years. The oldest inhabited mounds before this study were found in Brazil and are around 4,000 years old. They are visible from space.Francis said the Namaqualand mounds are a termite version of an “apartment complex” and the evidence shows they have been consistently inhabited by termite colonies.Termite mounds are a famous feature of the Namaqualand landscape, but no one suspected their age until samples of them were taken to experts in Hungary for radiocarbon dating.“People don’t know that these are speci …

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[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nnCAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Scientists in South Africa have been stunned to discover that termite mounds that are still inhabited in an arid region of the country are more than 30,000 years old, meaning they are the oldest known active termite hills.Some of the mounds near the Buffels River in Namaqualand were estimated by radiocarbon dating to be 34,000 years old, according to the researchers from Stellenbosch University.“We knew they were old, but not that old,” said Michele Francis, senior lecturer in the university’s department of soil science who led the study. Her paper was published in May.Francis said the mounds existed while saber-toothed cats and woolly mammoths roamed other parts of the Earth and large swathes of Europe and Asia were covered in ice. They predate some of the earliest cave paintings in Europe.Some fossilized termite mounds have been discovered dating back millions of years. The oldest inhabited mounds before this study were found in Brazil and are around 4,000 years old. They are visible from space.Francis said the Namaqualand mounds are a termite version of an “apartment complex” and the evidence shows they have been consistently inhabited by termite colonies.Termite mounds are a famous feature of the Namaqualand landscape, but no one suspected their age until samples of them were taken to experts in Hungary for radiocarbon dating.“People don’t know that these are speci …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
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